Historical Review of Irving Youth/Family Counseling Services

 

1970's - Texas revised the penal and family codes and now allowed counseling as an alternative to prosecution for juveniles.  Forbade police officers from providing the counseling.  In response citizens and police personnel, concerned about rising juvenile crime, began looking into intervention programs in the Dallas area.  They located several: the City of Dallas had one but they felt it was too expensive; Carrollton had a program that they liked and believed was economically feasible to fund.  They chose to pattern Irving's program after Carrollton's program.

 

January 20, 1980 - the agency opened for counseling. A Board of Directors had secured a $20,000 seed grant from Grace Presbytery in Dallas. They were to get this money on a monthly basis for 21 months. The Board had hired an off-site Executive Director (who also was director for the Carrollton Police Department's program). He hired two part time counselors for the Irving office. One employee did intakes and adolescent groups and the other, a trained family therapist, saw adolescents and their parents. Referrals came from juvenile investigators from the Irving Police Department. The goal of the agency was to provide services that would divert juveniles from the juvenile justice

system.

1980 Board of Directors for Irving Neighborhood  Youth Services

Mary Oberlin, President                                                          Glen Weaver

Nancy O'Teter, Vice President                                                 Beth Wells

Mary Marks                                                                            Pat Norman

Honorable Bobby J. Raper                                                       Bill Greenough

Joe Bailey                                                                               Leonard Carmack

Rev. Hank Hunt                                                                       Benny Newman

Faith Sisney

 

March, 1980 - after getting paperwork ready, training programs in place, etc. the first clients were seen. A total of 138 adolescents and 150 adults were seen from the beginning in March until the end of the budget year, September. Since the opening of the agency until today 14,927 persons have received long term counseling.

 

April, 1981 - the First Offender Program began.  It is a two-night educational program with presentations from a counselor and a police officer.  From that time until today 8,112 children and parents have attended.  The Board of Directors voted to change the name of the program from Irving Neighborhood Youth Services to Irving Youth/Family

Counseling Services.

 

1981-1982 for the first time the fiscal budget for the City oflrving includes a contribution to IY/FCS.   Their contribution was $20,000 and the remaining $14,800 ofIY/FCS' budget came from contributions from the community.

1983 - entered into a pilot program with counselors from Irving High School and its two feeder middle schools. The schools were asked to identify and refer those adolescents whom they considered to be at-risk for future problems, legal, school, home, or emotional. This is the first time the agency sought outside referrals. Parents from the First Offender Program had been given the option of continuing counseling services upon completion of the program but the community as a whole had not been offered this service. Upon completion of the pilot program the board of directors agreed that the benefit to the community was worth the cost to the agency and they should continue to offer our services to schools. 

 

1983 - the agency ended its relationship with the counseling agency at Carrollton Police Department. As a result, the agency hired an on-site director. They also had to negotiate independent contracts with area universities for interns. An agency consultant was hired. 

 

1984 - the agency applied to United Way for financial support. The agency presentation was well received but the request was turned down. They reported that the agency was so well supported by the community that they believed other needier agencies should receive 

their support. 

 

1987 - after years of successful fund raising, the agency did not have enough money to meet payroll for the last two months of the fiscal year. Two groups provided money to meet this crisis; Grace Presbytery (the original benefactor) and the Irving Police Association. A careful review of the economic status of the city (indeed, the state and the country) led the board to seriously consider options. After brain-storming meetings between the police and board members it was decided to ask the City oflrving to place the Executive Director of the Agency on its payroll. Two reasons were given for this: It would give stability to the agency and it would provide benefits for the director. The city agreed to the proposal. The financial arrangement was this: The city would continue to give 50% of the budget to the agency. However, now they would deduct the salary of the director from this contribution and give the board a check for the balance. 

 

1988-89 - after observing that we had more and more Spanish speaking parents and children who could not always understand our English speaking counselors we began to offer First Offender Programs to this group. Since 1991 when we began to report this group separately from the English speaking group 492 parents and children have attended this program. The ability to do this was predicated by our having a bilingual intern at the agency. 

 

1990 - IY/FCS and its programs were recognized by the Police Foundation in its publication called "Police Handling of Juveniles: Developing Model Programs of Response" The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention funded the Foundation's research. Following an extensive review of programs throughout the country where they interviewed police departments, first by paper and then personal visits ( often sitting in programs) they made their report and recommendations. One important 

 

factor this publication believed to be essential to the success oflrving's program was the collaborative effort between the Police Department and members of the community to solve the problems of juvenile crime. In discussing this cooperation it is mentioned that, "the important point here is not to recommend Irving's approach to the diversion of juvenile offenders, although we would have no trouble doing so. What is important is that with assistance from the police, Irving has rallied local support to develop and sustain programs that would likely not otherwise exist." 

 

1991 - in October of 1991 the City oflrving was requested to provide $7,075 for parent education/socialization classes for Spanish speaking families. The money would cover instructor payroll and a start up kit and workbooks to be provided free to participants. The council voted to provide the funds for the program and have included it in their budget for each subsequent year. 

 

July, 1992 - Irving Youth/Family Counseling Services entered into a contract with an anonymous grantor to begin an incentive program with the youth oflrving. The name of the behavior modification program was Contracts and Bonuses. The idea was that if we could get at-risk children to examine their behavior and decide what changes need to be made to meet their goals, we could (through contracts) get them involved in making positive changes. Rewarding these changes through $15 is critical. However, the additional responses from parents, teachers, peers, etc. are necessary for producing the intrinsic rewards that come from good performance. The hope is that the good behavior will become a permanent part of the adolescent's life. The program, after 3 years of good results, became well known and has been copied by several cities in the area. After asking the school district for help in tracking contracts it was decided to ask some of the district's counselors to identify children who would be motivated by $15 to change disruptive and inappropriate behavior into positive and growth producing behavior. They (the counselors) would work as agents for the agency and write contracts designed to reach these goals. This joint effort by the schools and the agency is another example of how we have worked in partnership to identify and work with at-risk children in a proactive way. 

 

1995 - the agency agreed to take referrals from Irving Police Department's newly formed Domestic Violence Unit. It is anticipated that the number of clients will be prohibitive for the part-time counselor hired to counsel this clientele, so we will counsel those who cannot participate in other area programs. 

 

1996 - at the annual Board of Directors meeting a recommendation was made and approved to secure funds to erect a building that will allow the agency to increase services provided. It will also allow the various agencies that provide support, prosecution, and therapy to be housed under one roof so that victims are minimally impacted by telling their stories to the involved parties one time at one place. The building has come to be known as the Family Advocacy Center. In addition to the offices for IY /FCS, the building will provide space for: the Domestic Violence Unit, Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Units of the Irving Police Department; the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (known as CPS) and the Dallas County District Attorney. Expanded services by the 

agency will provide young children with therapy through the medium of play.  All family members will be encouraged to attend programs helping them address the trauma from the victirnization.

 

1997 - the agency entered into a contract with the City of Irving's Teen Court to provide a program for juveniles who have been arrested more than once (for misdemeanor cases). The program, known as a S-llbsequent Offender Program, is a one and one half  hour weekly program that lasts for four weeks. Both the adolescent and at least one parent

must attend.  Parents learn blocks to good parenting, relationship building, how to provide structure for their childten, etc:  The teen learns anger control, goal setting, communication skills, etc.  Dut1ng the last session children and parents come together to practice their new skill.